Rag N Bone Man : Put That Soul On Me

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Rag N Bone Man deserves to be world-renowned; his 2013 collab with Leaf Dog was a heavy fusion of smouldering soul and syrupy vocals, Reuben’s Train was one of last year’s finest tracks, and after airplay from DJ Premier, Mistajam and Zane Lowe; the Rum Committee vocalist continues to scale new musical heights on his latest collaboration. Put That Soul On Me combines his smoked-out songwriting with beats from larger-than-life MC and skilled producer Dirty Dike; who creates a fresh, musically diverse backdrop for Rag N Bone’s urban blues. The introductory title track slinks out the speaker with lazy flute loops, clean shakers and splashy snares;  as Dike’s loose, natural feel allows room for some of the EP’s most memorable vocal patterns, and Rag N Bone’s cadence channels BB King and D.P.G. simultaneously.

Across The Sky wallows in an inebriated haze as Rag N Bone drip-feeds lines, draping words in a slow drawl over minimal horn loops and sparse drums that swing like Questlove on Voodoo; while My Business finds Ronnie Bosh dropping intricate rhymes on an ill jazz flip from his Contact Play affiliate, and after Rag N Bone’s gruff, reflective verses bloom into a huge, catchy chorus; he hits a few final falsetto’s that would have most modern R & B singers struggling. This unexpected release from High Focus is one of the finest you’ll hear this year; an enjoyable listen for anyone into Soul, Blues, Hip Hop or Gospel, from a humble vocalist that could be the UK’s answer to Bilal, and an established emcee that’s becoming a seriously accomplished producer.

Buy it digitally here, and physically here.

Peace.

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Fliptrix : Out The Box

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Fuck the trendsetter, I be the peacekeeper’.

From the intricate fractal geometries that adorn Out The Box‘s cover art, to the title’s allusion to expanded awareness; it’s clear that the man with the mind behind High Focus Records isn’t shy when it comes to penning esoteric verses steeped in deep content. April sees Fliptrix re-release his 2010 project Theory Of Rhyme on double vinyl, and begin to build momentum for his forthcoming Polyhymnia album by dropping Out The Box, a new collaboration project with South London-based DJ and producer Rebs. This ill remix LP features reinterpretations of 6 of tracks taken from the essential Third Eye Of The Storm album; along with 6 new previously-unreleased songs that illustrate the change in perspective the meditative MC has undergone over recent years.

Much more than an interim release, Out The Box finds the duo devising musical remedies for the modern Hip Hop listener; with cleansing sounds that reinvent the original songs. Reb’s remix of Chemo’s haunting strings on The Storm switches your receiver, taking your perception of the content from Michael Ruppert-style harbingers of cataclysm to messages of hope in the face of adversity. Soundscapes has a similar effect, as Farma G’s bars sound out even clearer over Reb’s otherworldly piano stabs, and Fliptrix’ transcendental chorus lines emerge revitalized and renewed by the remix process. The first new track Smoke Rings is the best on the album; Reb’s simple beat is melodically fulfilling and heavy on that old boom bap stomp, while Fliptrix’s lyrical alignment with peace dominates his heartfelt delivery; with clever use of metaphor, ‘never will I be the fireplace without the coal in’  and intricate rhyme schemes; ‘twilight embarks on the dawn of reality, my thoughts spawn from a sparkle of a fractal dream, rap and beat brought together by the tractor beams, words will travel round the globe, defy gravity.’ Reb’s dub selection skills nearly top the future-garage vibes of Kontigo’s original on The Essence. With Flipz at his most honest and beats that bang this hard, the tune holds the potential to spark off your club night or accompany you on a solitary search for soul purpose, as you reflect onwhat happened to fun without drugs, and how come everyone fucks but don’t love?’ 

If you’re in the UK you probably remember Rising’s riotous rhymes on Sammy B Side’s Wordplay Mag mix a few issues ago; the tune packs party-vibes for days with short bursts of verse, and a chorus so huge it could accommodate whole families. Duppying The Style is confident and lyrically creative; with imagery and rhyme schemes that were prevalent on his first few albums, and the title track keeps things upbeat as Rebs draws from the same sample source Illinformed used for Brothers Of The Stone; with Fliptrix channelling a chorus sure to set you smashing mental boxes for fruits of wisdom like Crash Bandicoot on the hunt for apples. His references to the vibrational reality of the universe measured through cymatics and JFK as ‘the only real president’ demonstrate his skill for subtly sign-posting paths towards truth for the listener, using synchronicity-style invitations that always manifest humbly; ‘Do this for a greater reason, my divine purpose, truth hides beneath the surface when I’m writing verses, third eye alignment, vibration’s perfect, time is everything and nothing but it’s never worthless.’ Fan favourite Wylin’ Out gets a mellow make-over as energetic verses course over Reb’s oriental sounds, before Runone’s original Nothing’s Quite As It Seems reincarnates with mystic harp riffs winding through the maze of cryptic content contained in the first verse. Verb T flows slightly less obscure, with standardly clever wordplay and effortlessly inventive flow patterns that hold jewels; ‘Thoughts take strange shape like a mutant, manifest physically, some as pollutants.’

Mutantz  energetic flow crackles with anger towards the system, buffered by complicated bars that keep their underlying message simmering beneath the surface. Reb’s inventive sampling gives way to a more computerized cadence on Walk this Way, marking the only miss on an otherwise hitting LP; but still boasts a nimble verse from Bristol-based MC, Buggsy and some cool electro chatter that elevates the chorus. As the album draws to a close, the sombre sounds on Ashes To Ashes find Flipz briefly turning his attention away from the earth, and towards the more business-motivated churnings of the world; addressing the vacant state we’ve been nulled into that finds the majority ‘addicted to consumerism, purchasing to fill the void‘, then posing the poignant question ‘How come humans used to look so beautiful? now every day it’s like their dressing for a funeral, pessimistic state, grey aura in a cubicle.

The huge shift Fliptrix made from Third Eye Of The Storm‘s tentative spiritual references still somewhat mired in negativity, to an an almost ego-less cosmic consciousness on The Road To The Interdimensional Piff Highway previously seemed enough of a jump to give Graham Hancock new material; but now with Out The Box the HF figurehead has provided us that missing mental link; and more importantly created an album of hugely enjoyable songs as his spiritually-transcendent, socially prescient lyrics take residence over Reb’s mellow instrumentals.

Pre-order the album at the High Focus website here, or on itunes here in anticipation for it’s release on April 14th. Get it before the official release date by buying the Theory Of Rhyme double vinyl.

5/5

Peace.

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